Similarities and differences – I think it is needless to say that this will perhaps be one of the defining themes of my experience in the US. At one level, the theme is simple enough – a sixteen hour time difference between Sydney and Washington DC, a long dry and hot summer to freezing winters and snowstorms and the pronunciation of miscellaneous fruits/vegetables (tomatoes mainly) and metals of the periodic table (“alooooominum”? is it similar to aluminium?). As a law student I feel my lecturer for Federal Constitutional Law obliging me to point out that when the founding fathers of Australia created and signed our constitution in 1901, they looked to their American counterparts who did so some 100 years early and from them, we have inherited our federalist system.
Yet all of that is small stuff and droll history. Having had a few days to ponder and as I draw deeper into the very essence of what shapes Australia, the US and indeed the relationship between our two nations I find a complex and multi-dimension landscape which surprisingly cuts into the very core of who I am today. I find myself in the heart of Washington DC where decisions taken forty years ago led to Australian involvement in the Vietnam War. I won’t debate Cold-War foreign policy but needless to say I cannot avoid the fact that the course of events that unfolded profoundly shaped the fact that I write this entry today as someone born, raised and educated in Australia. It is a feeling hard to describe to be in a place which in a way has shaped your very identity and indeed, the very circumstances upon which the words are being formed on this page as I write this entry. It does however serve as a pertinent reminder that amongst the columns and corridors of those grand marble buildings, the words and actions of a few reverberate around the world and have, and will continue to impact, shape and define the lives of the many people – and I am one such person.
Certainly a profound (too profound perhaps?) point to begin my blogging entries but hopefully one which will marks the start of a remarkable learning experience over the course of the next 6 months. On a lighter note, I do have the say that all the snow is pretty cool.